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From the much acclaimed author of Dared and Done: The Marriage of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, a new book that retrieves the lives of Victorian women--writers, actresses, poets, journalists, sculptors, and social reformers--celebrated in their day but forgotten in ours. Julia Markus focuses in particular on the American Charlotte Cushman, the most famous English-speaking actress of her day, and on the Scottish Jane Welsh Carlyle, a brilliant London hostess who gave up private ambition to become the wife of her friend Thomas Carlyle.Charlotte Cushman became an international star on the New York and London stage, and her Romeo and Hamlet were sensations. An independent woman with shrewd business sense who made her own fortune and supported her entire family, she dressed like a man from the waist up and had a succession of female lovers, each one of whom she planned to live with for life, each of whom she 'married.'Jane Welsh Carlyle, literary hostess, unparalleled letter writer and chronicler of her times--who, after a passionate youthful love affair, resolved to marry genius or not at all--became the wife of the revered and lionized philosopher Thomas Carlyle, a difficult, demanding man with whom she had a sexless marriage.Interweaving the worlds of Charlotte Cushman and Jane Carlyle--the worlds of expatriate Rome, literary London, New York, and St. Louis--Markus gathers together a number of interrelated and renowned women who were relegated in the public eye to the position of Virgin Queen (no matter how much married) or Old Maid, but who were, in fact, privately leading vibrant, independent, sexual lives. Among them: Matilda Hays, translator of George Sand; Harriet Hosmer, who resolved to become the world's first professional woman sculptor; and Emma Stebbins, whom Cushman 'married' and who created the Bethesda Fountain in New York's Central Park. Here, too, are the people who sought the friendship of Cushman and Carlyle, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Horace Mann, Elizabeth Peabody, President Lincoln's Secretary of State William H. Seward, Geraldine Jewsbury, and Rosa Bonheur.Making use of letters, diaries, newspaper accounts, and journals of the day, many of them overlooked and unpublished, Julia Markus rediscovers lives forgotten in the shadows of convention and shows how these remarkable women--seemingly separated by nationality, class, and sexual inclination--met, formed alliances, and influenced one another, forging changes in themselves and in their time.
A moving epic novel about the Addis family follows the lives of a butcher, Charles, and his wife Etta, their two children, and Rose, the grandchild who must face the demands of their past.ROSE WAS BORN TO A FAMILY OF EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN.Her immigrant great-grandmother, the first Rose, a shrewd and beautiful fortune-teller, who gave abortions to make "a little extra"...Proud Etta, matriarch, lover of costly things, who kept a fine home with a firm hand...Delicate Helen, musical prodigy, who soared on her talent into madness.Now Rose-American Rose-must face up to all their lives in order to claim her own.Julia Markus, an English professor at Hofstra University, received the Houghton Mifflin Literary Award for her first novel, Uncle, which was followed by three well-received novels, American Rose, Friends Along the Way and A Change of Luck, as well as her critically acclaimed biographies, Dared and Done: The Marriage of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning and Across An Untried Sea: Discovering Lives Hidden in the Shadow of Convention and Time. She has won a National Endowment for the Arts grant and two National Endowment for the Humanities grants. Her most recent book is J. Anthony Froude: The Last Undiscovered Great Victorian."Bickering, weeping, sulking, giggling-the Addises are vibrantly alive. Their struggles both distress and amuse us; their disappointments touch us..."--Anne Tyler, The New York Times"Moving and masterful...a novel of tremendous power and originality by one of the most gifted novelists of her generation."--Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides"A story told by a writer who knows her people from the heart out...I loved it!"--Belva Plain, author of Evergreen and Random Winds
Elaine Netherlands is taking charge of her life--with zest. Divorced, independent, on the brink of a new career, she feels exhilarated by possibility. Then her nineteen-year-old step-daughter, Nola, shows up at her door after three years of silence. Nola needs money--a loan so that her rock group, Second Hand, can get to California. And Elaine wants to give it, wants to say, "Go for it, girl, you can do it." But wouldn't this mean another confrontation with her former husband, Larry Netherlands, the fashionable New York photographer of beautiful women?Should she side with Nola? Elaine makes a wrong turn as she drives from Manhattan to Connecticut. Finding herself lost in the woods in the middle of her life's journey, she does what any self-respecting late-twentieth century person would do--she gets to a clearing and takes an option on one of the town houses being built there. And it is then that she meets Mario Picard, a contractor with a French-Canadian crew, and her wrong turn leads her to a change of luck.So begins Julia Markus's latest novel, a comedy of the spirit, which blazes a path through the density of our times. In its pages, Elaine contends with professional reversals, real estate, love, sex, co-dependency, and loss, and emerges tested but triumphant. With humor, wit, and intelligence, A Change of Luck looks squarely at the dark in our society, but finally affirms the power of hope.Julia Markus, an English professor at Hofstra University, received the Houghton Mifflin Literary Award for her first novel, Uncle, which was followed by three well-received novels, American Rose, Friends Along the Way and A Change of Luck, as well as her critically acclaimed biographies, Dared and Done: The Marriage of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning and Across An Untried Sea: Discovering Lives Hidden in the Shadow of Convention and Time. She has won a National Endowment for the Arts grant and two National Endowment for the Humanities grants. Her most recent book is J. Anthony Froude: The Last Undiscovered Great Victorian."Elaine Netherlands, novelist and former wife of a famous New York fashion photographer, is learning a few lessons about life. Having established a post-divorce independence, she finds her orderly existence thrown topsy-turvy when she takes a wrong turn en route to visit friends in Connecticut and impulsively buys an option on a townhouse. She meets a handsome contractor on site and falls in love. Concurrently, her stepdaughter comes back into her life with a request for money and her ex-husband becomes ill and seeks emotional support. Although Elaine had sought to get away from a traditional role in which females "find their lives in others," she finds herself with many needy individuals in her life. She becomes involved with Anonymous Rooms (a self-help group modeled on AA) in an attempt to take care of her own needs while coping with the growing burdens placed on her by others. The story and issues are contemporary, and the protagonist triumphs in the end."--Kimberly G. Allen, National Assn. of Home Builders Lib., Washington, D.C. Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc."A Change of Luck is uncanny in its perception of depiction of the dislocation that can occur in life, where moral change, desire, and love come into play. This is very much a contemporary novel, touching upon many of today's pressing issues, written in the unique voice of a fine and always entertaining novelist."--Oscar Hijuelos, author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love"From Andy Warhol's funeral to Connecticut Coop futures, from speedballs to co-dependency groups, this book defines a time and place: America on the cusp of the century. It's funny and sad, full of hope and despair, and I couldn't put it down--not least because of its deadpan satire of the publishing industry."--Meredith Tax, author of Rivington Street and Union Square
A Riveting and brilliant work of biography. The story of two great English poets, Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning, whose work was immediately recognized and adored by their contemporaries, whose courtship ranks with the great love stories of all time -- and in whose marriage romance was not merely sustained but intensified.We enter their story through the sealed Victorian world of the Barretts of Wimpole Street: Elizabeth, at thirty-nine, a poet of international fame, a child prodigy who had grown to be a middle-aged spinster, a woman for whom romantic love seemed not to be possible, confined by illness, morphine, and the tyranny of her father, scion of rich Jamaican slaveholders, rum and sugar traders.It is to this fortress that Robert Browning, already an admired young poet and playwright, already a devotee of Elizabeth's, lays siege. ("I love your verses," he had written Elizabeth in his first letter to her, long before they met. "I love your verses with all my heart -- and I love you too.") And miraculously Elizabeth let life in.Julia Markus chronicles their extraordinary courtship, their marriage in secret (Browning to Elizabeth: "How you have dared and done all this ... for my only sake?"), and their radiant honeymoon in Italy.Markus shows us how the political events of the times inspired the great dramatic monologues of Robert's middle years and how Italy's stormy reunification inspired Elizabeth's later work.We come to see Elizabeth as an artist with a fierce and final confidence in poetry and its effect on the poets' lives. We see husband and wife celebrate the birth of their son, Robert Wiedemann "Pen" Barrett Browning (Browning to her sisters: "I sate by [Elizabeth] as much as I was allowed, and I shall never forget what I saw, tho' I cannot speak about it").We see them among their artist/writer friends: in London with Tennyson, Thackeray, Rossetti, and others; in Rome with William Story, the American lawyer, poet, sculptor; with Harriet Hosmer, the stonecutter, who was one of the models for Aurora Leigh; with Charlotte Cushman, the American actress, who held readings of Elizabeth's novel in verse. We see Elizabeth in Paris meeting her heroine George Sand, whose society of socialists and theatrical types Robert described as "ragged Red."We come to understand Elizabeth's dependence on the ever-present drug in her life ("I should not be alive except by help of my morphine") and her constant battle with depression. And we see Elizabeth, encouraged by a woman with whom she was infatuated, move from interest to obsession with spiritualism, a cause that became the only source of serious dissension between the Brownings.We follow the course of their rich marriage, from the beginning when each saw the other as a brilliant poet, a compassionate and strangely similar heart, through the years in which they discovered each other's differences, each remaining a complex and thrilling human being to the other.To tell their story, Markus for the first time makes use of much of Elizabeth's unpublished correspondence, amid a wealth of other documents. She delves fully into the Brownings' Creole background and shows how it affected their lives and their work (Elizabeth was the first of the Jamaican Barretts to be born in England in many generations).Brilliantly interweaving the Brownings' own words with her authentic and perceptive narrative, Julia Markus brings these two great poets -- their marriage, their work, their times -- alive as never before.
Betsy Lewis is an innocent abroad until she meets Alice Blanders Russo and her much younger lover, Leo Conti. Together they form a triangle of friendship and desire that will turn Betsy's marriage-and her principles-upside down. Add a hilarious excursion to find her Italian "roots" and the rediscovery of an old friend (brilliant, black and gay), and Betsy is on a road to self-discovery filled with unexpected turnings and definitely dangerous curves. Alive with the attractions and contradictions of Rome and the Americans who gathered there in the '60's and '70's, Friends Along the Way explores serious relationships with just the right touch of wild humor, capturing the flavor of love Italian style-rich, robust, and a feast to remember.Julia Markus, an English professor at Hofstra University, received the Houghton Mifflin Literary Award for her first novel, Uncle, which was followed by three well-received novels, American Rose, Friends Along the Way and A Change of Luck, as well as her critically acclaimed biographies, Dared and Done: The Marriage of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning and Across An Untried Sea: Discovering Lives Hidden in the Shadow of Convention and Time. She has won a National Endowment for the Arts grant and two National Endowment for the Humanities grants. Her most recent book is J. Anthony Froude: The Last Undiscovered Great Victorian."An entire generation's rite of passage."--Philadelphia Inquirer"Tracing the ties that bind and the ties that unravel."--Chicago Sun Times"A Book one wants to keep on reading."--New York Time Book Review"Deeply engaging...opens up wonderful new angles onto fiction's familiar landscape of passion and the search for self"--Newsweek
Acclaimed biographer Julia Markus has written an unprecedented and illuminating portrait of the brilliant, tortured, and controversial James Anthony Froude -- the quintessential Victorian, father of modern biography, historian, diplomat, and prodigal son. J. Anthony Froude expertly captures the roiling cultural history of a century through one man's dynamic life. From his birth in 1818 to his death in 1894, J. Anthony Froude embodied the issues and complexities of his time. Through the story of his life, Markus elucidates the major ideological issues of the nineteenth century -- sexuality, colonialism, and the widespread challenges to religion's long-held cultural primacy. In beautifully crafted prose, Markus reveals the compelling life of one of the most important thinkers of the Victorian age -- the brutality of his early education, his troubled relationship with his father, his expulsion from Oxford, his dramatic and dazzling literary career, his delicious political incorrectness, his two marriages, his relationships with his children, his friendships with such disparate luminaries as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Cardinal Newman, his diplomatic work for Prime Minister Disraeli, and his complex relationship with Thomas Carlyle, his spiritual father and the subject of his most famous biography. A. L. Rowse, historian and author, called Froude the "last great Victorian awaiting revival." No life of the period is more poignant, no destiny more fascinating, than that of this man who in his books and his actions reflected the triumphs and the errors of his society.
The center of public attention after her tumultuous marriage to Lord Byron, Annabella Milbanke transformed herself from a neglected wife into a figure of incredible resilience and social vision. After she and her infant child were cast out of their home, she was left to navigate the stifling and unsupportive social environment of Regency England. Far from a victim or an obstacle to Byron's work, however, Lady Byron was a rebel against the fashionable snobbery of her class, founding the first Infants School and Co-Operative School in England. A poet and talented mathematician, Lady Byron supported the education of her precocious daughter, Ada Lovelace, now recognized and lauded as a pioneer of computer science, and saved from death her "adoptive daughter" Medora Leigh, the child of Lord Byron's incest with his sister. Lady Byron was adored by the younger abolitionist Harriet Beecher Stowe and by many notable friends. Yet her complex relationships with her family, including the sister Byron loved, runs like a live wire through this skillfully told and groundbreaking biography of a remarkable woman who made a life for herself and became a leading light in her century.
Irv Bender knew the meaning of devotion-he had sacrificed his own chance for a college education so that his beloved brother Babe could go. But it is Irv, not Babe, who will become the family achiever. As half-owner of a summer camp in the Poconos, he earns more than enough to become his brother's keeper...and a discreetly benevolent "uncle" to his partner, Mandy Mershheimer, the novelist; his talented, attractive niece, Suzanne; and his protégé and assistant, Larry Driscoll. But it is the nature of benevolence to breed resentments. And it is the nature of good intentions to frequently yield unforeseen pain. Julia Markus's remarkable novel is a rich, compressed story of the complex relationships between family and friends, and of one man making peace with the past.Uncle won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship Award in 1978.Julia Markus, an English professor at Hofstra University, received the Houghton Mifflin Literary Award for her first novel, Uncle, which was followed by three well-received novels, American Rose, Friends Along the Way and A Change of Luck, as well as her critically acclaimed biographies, Dared and Done: The Marriage of Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning and Across An Untried Sea: Discovering Lives Hidden in the Shadow of Convention and Time. She has won a National Endowment for the Arts grant and two National Endowment for the Humanities grants. Her most recent book is J. Anthony Froude: The Last Undiscovered Great Victorian."Delighting and illuminating"--The New York Times Book Review"A beautiful book of complicated moral vision"--Chicago Sun-Times"Uncle portrays a lifetime in the sparest of needlepoints."--Newsweek
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